Gilbert focused on returning to Oilers lineup

Oilers defenceman Tom Gilbert skates during the warmup prior to facing the Flames at the Scotiabank...

Oilers defenceman Tom Gilbert skates during the warmup prior to facing the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., Oct. 20, 2011. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:13 PM ET

EDMONTON - Tom Gilbert is not interested in dwelling on the hit.

The Edmonton Oilers defenceman has moved past it, and instead is concentrating on working his way back into the Edmonton Oilers lineup.

Gilbert is back skating with the club, having been out with a knee and ankle injury after getting plastered into the end boards by Daniel Carcillo early into the New Year.

“You have to move on,” Gilbert said. “I prefer not to watch it again. It’s one of those things, you wish you would have been able to avoid it. But it’s something you have to learn from.”

Gilbert was on his way to retrieve a puck along the end boards when Carcillo drilled him, earning the Chicago Blackhawks’ forward a seven-game suspension in the process.

“That’s probably the hardest I’ve been hit,” Gilbert said. “I think the outcome would probably suggest that, just the way I went into the boards. It could have been a lot worse than the outcome was, though. In that case, I got a little lucky.”

Carcillo was also injured on the play, having torn the ACL in his left knee, which required season-ending surgery.

“You never wish injuries on anybody, but obviously the hit affected both of us,” said Gilbert. “The knee is still a little bit swollen, but right now it’s more the ankle. Obviously it affects your skating and you’re pivoting all over the place.

“This is the first time I’ve had an ankle injury, so it’s a new experience for me on how to get back and how to take care of it. Every day it’s getting better and better, so I just have to keep working on it.”

Gilbert was having a strong season prior to the incident.

The native of Bloomington, Minn., had three goals and 12 assists in 38 games this season and was leading the team in ice-time, averaging nearly 24 minutes per night.

Including Tuesday’s contest against the Colorado Avalanche, Gilbert has gone on to miss the Oilers’ last 12 games.

There’s no definite timeline on his return.

“It’s progressing,” said Gilbert. “It’s probably something you don’t want to rush. Hopefully every day it gets better and better. I’d like to say something (about his return), but I have no idea. Sooner rather than later, I hope. I’d like to be on the road trip, but I just have to try and keep getting better every day.”

Having had a few days off during the All-Star festivities in Ottawa, the Oilers are hoping Gilbert is one of a number of players able to make a return to the lineup in the near future.

Both Cam Barker and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are skating with the team and are close to returning as well.

Barker has been out since injuring his ankle in mid-November, which required surgery. Nugent-Hopkins, meanwhile, has not played since injuring his shoulder, also in the contest against the Blackhawks on Jan. 2.

“It’d be nice to have some of these guys back that haven’t been around in awhile,” Gilbert said. “Barker is a great addition, we’ve missed him all year. Getting a guy like Nugent-Hopkins back, who’s had a tremendous first year, is also big, he’s been missed. It’s tough to fill shoes like that, so it’ll be nice to have those guys back.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

@SUNdvandiest


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